Designing jobs for employees must be a strategic initiative because optimizing productivity levels without overworking an employee can be difficult to accomplish. Job design refers to organizing tasks, duties, responsibilities, and other components into a productive unit of work. As such, there is a correlation between job design and job performance; job design and job satisfaction; job design and organizational commitment; and job design and physical and mental health. Once the job and tasks are defined, a detailed job description needs to be developed.
A job description will usually indicate the different tasks for which a potential employee will be responsible. Organizations are known to come up with job descriptions that provide a general standard for interested applicants. Organizations are also notorious for including the following sentence at the end of a job description: Employee may be asked to perform other duties as required. This significant sentence legally allows an employer to modify job descriptions at any time and without notice. The Occupational Information Network (or O*NET) is a useful website for learning about different jobs and the tasks associated with each job (www.onetonline.org). The following job description illustrates the tasks for which an Assistant Professor of Marketing is responsible.
Job Description Example
Assistant Professor of Marketing
Responsibilities: Teach general Marketing courses and/or concentration courses as appropriate per academic credentials, advise students, and serve on Department and University committees. The preferred candidates will be able to conduct research in their areas of expertise and/or related fields. Participate in the ongoing development of the curriculum. Continue professional development and scholarship in teaching areas, research and academic writing. Positions require teaching excellence and scholarly productivity. Employee may be asked to perform other duties as required.
It can be concluded from the brief job description above that a potential employee is responsible for researching (creative), performing other duties as required (adaptive), and teaching (routine) at the university. Task-based job performance has three general categories: creative, adaptive, and routine. The “CAR” acronym, can be used for recalling the task performance criteria.
Task Performance Criteria
Creative task performance is the degree to which employees develop and implement ideas that are both novel and useful. The reality is that creative task performance is playing a larger role in all jobs. For example, Google engineers can spend up to 20 percent of their time on a project of their choice because creativity is valued and encouraged by the organization. By the same token, the employees of 3M are allowed to use 15 percent of their time to think creatively. Both companies credit these unique programs as the source of their most successful products. In some professions (e.g., marketing or advertising), creative task performance is considered more important than any other task performance. Furthermore, professors are also encouraged to be creative and publish in prestigious academic journals. As a matter of fact, the example above illuminated the importance of a professor being able to publish. The classic saying, “publish or perish” holds true in academia. Imagine one-third of a professor’s job (or more) being dependent upon his or her ability to be creative and publish novel concepts. With globalization and competition, creative task performance will continue to play a major role in all jobs of the future.
Adaptive task performance requires an employee to be able to “adapt and overcome” novel or unusual situations. A case in point is when Chesley B. Sullenberger, the pilot of US Airways Flight 1549 (January 15, 2009), discovered his plane had lost power and he decided to land in the Hudson River. Captain Sullenberger’s heroic actions saved the lives of 150 passengers and crew. A different example (occurred on January 9, 2011) is when U.S. Representative Gabrielle Giffords was shot in Arizona and her aide (Daniel Hernandez Jr., who was only five days into his new job) came to her rescue and performed first-aid. Both examples elucidate adaptive task performances that are novel and unusual. All jobs have a component of adaptive task performance that can be extreme or insignificant.
Routine task performance is associated with being responsible for the same task each day with very minimal variety or change. A classic example of routine task performance would be an employee who works on an automobile assembly line. Each person who works on an automobile assembly line has a very specific job such as screwing on doors or bumpers. This “division of labor” concept is used in many organizations to help enhance productivity levels. For example, contemporary hospitals have been known to request radiologists to specialize and analyze specific digital images (e.g., CT scans, MRI scans, or mammograms) to help productivity, efficiency, accountability, and efficacy levels. In some situations, it makes more sense to divide work amongst a group of employees as opposed to having a group of employees working on the same tasks and doing double-work.
Drawing on the material in the background readings and doing additional research, please prepare a 3-5 page paper (not including the cover and reference pages) in which you:
- Analyze your current occupation using the task performance criteria (CAR acronym).
- Discuss how your job aligns with the task performance criteria (CAR acronym). Provide specific examples. What percent of your job focuses on creative, adaptive, and routine task performances? Discuss your findings.
- Based upon the task performance criteria (CAR acronym), how can your job be changed to make it more meaningful?
- Create a new job description for your current job that you could use to attract applicants.
Your paper will be evaluated on the following points:
- Precision – Does the paper address the question(s) or task(s)?
- Clarity – Is the writing clear and the concepts articulated properly? Are paraphrasing and synthesis of concepts the primary means of response to the questions, or are excessive use of quotations how thoughts are conveyed? Are headings included in all papers greater than 2 pages?
- Breadth – Is the full breadth of the subject addressed?
- Depth – Does the paper address the topic in sufficient depth?
- Grammar, spelling and vocabulary – Is the paper written well – is the grammar, spelling, and vocabulary suitable to graduate level work?
- Referencing (citations and references) – Does the paper use citations and quotation marks when appropriate?
- Critical thinking – Is the subject thought about critically, i.e., accurately, logically, relevantly, and precisely?